Some functional points I have to keep in mind
- start drawing the sword before pushing forward, or I'll die
- draw with my right hand angled upward, instead of holding the sword from the side
- draw towards their seigetsu (or eyes?)
- draw with jo-ha-kyū
- don't twist the saya for a horizontal cut, instead twist the sword at sayabiki
- flow into the cut and don't make rising into it two steps by stopping to flip toes; just make sure the left foot's toes are flipped and my body grounded before the sword hits
- for nukitsuke, cut across the chest
- for kiritsuke, stab behind your ear, but don't waste energy holding the tip up (let it sink back to nipple height, like after nukitsuke), but hold your hands up
- don't shift your left leg forward, but step and pull yourself forward with your right foot
- when doing chiburi, when you rise, bring your left foot up to meet your right, and watch down at teki
- right foot back, and do a slow noto, don't drop until the sword is half sheathed in the saya
- during noto, keep the tsuka aimed at teki
- after rising, take two steps back (left first) before letting your right hand come off the sword, and relaxing
We spent most of the class understanding the various parts by analysing possible variations.
- What happens if you rise forward before you start to draw? You reveal your intent and bring yourself into easy striking range for them.
- Where else other than the chest can you hit
- What happens if you draw towards their eyes with jo-ha-kyū? You make what's about to happen less obvious and threatening.
- What happens if you draw towards their seigetsu? If they try blocking you by grabbing your sword, you have a better chance of folding them in and drawing through them.
- What happens if someone is drawing at you?
- You can try to draw vertically and forward to cut their wrist
- You can draw with your angled to your tsuka from underneath to remove two inches of strikeable meat.
- You can often grab their tsuka and prevent their iaito from leaving their saya.
- You can help them draw their iaito by grabbing a bit from underneath while pressing the sharp end into them
- You can move forward as though you were striking, but use your tsuka to block their sword while you go for their head or face or throat
- You can move forward with your left leg forward, getting off the line, to get inside or outside their forward right leg, and use your hands to catch their tsuka and bicep (anticipating they'll draw)
- You can sit back so they'll miss on nukitsuke (presuming they were cutting at the expected target of you coming forward to cut them) and then slap their sword out of the way
- What happens if someone grabs your tsuka?
- You can adjust the direction you're drawing, perhaps circling your tsuka to break their grip.
- You can also shift backwards to create a new space in which to draw.
- What happens if someone is trying to catch your tsuka when you draw towards them?
- You can draw straight towards their seigetsu, breaking the power in their arms by folding them in
- You can draw the sword around you and to your side, so you can thrust it in
Some of my favourite pieces of advice included, when they're coming in to cut Mae, if you step forward matching their forward foot (they go right, you go left) and get off the line, the point at which you catch their arm and tsuka, it's not about your hands successfully catching it, it's about your arms presenting your hand area to those targets and first meeting and then wrapping into position.
One thing I really like about classes is that Taylor-sensei can go into mechanics of how things work the way they do physiologically. He's a strong man, and he can successfully demonstrate situations in which someone half his size can overpower him through angles and vectors of force.